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Am J Pathol. 2014 Jun;184(6):1660-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2014.02.007.

Age- and gene-dosage-dependent cre-induced abnormalities in the retinal pigment epithelium.

Author information

  • 1Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts; Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts.
  • 2F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 3Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts; Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts. Electronic address: amarneros@mgh.harvard.edu.

Abstract

To conditionally inactivate genes in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) transgenic mouse strains have been developed, in which Cre recombinase (Cre) expression is driven by an RPE-specific gene promoter. The RPE is a quiescent epithelium, and continuous expression of Cre could affect its function. Here, we tested the hypothesis that continuous postnatal Cre expression in the RPE may lead to cellular abnormalities, which may depend on both age and Cre gene dosage. We therefore examined the eyes of homozygous and heterozygous VMD2-Cre mice at various ages. In VMD2-Cre heterozygous mice variable progressive age-dependent RPE abnormalities were noticed, including attenuation of phalloidin and cytoplasmic active β-catenin staining, reduced cell size, and loss of the typical honeycomb pattern of RPE morphology in those RPE cells that stained for Cre. These morphological RPE abnormalities were not noticed in Cre-negative RPE cells in VMD2-Cre or age-matched control mice. In addition, an abnormal number and morphology of cell nuclei were noticed in a subset of Cre-expressing RPE cells in aged heterozygous VMD2-Cre mice, whereas more severe nuclear abnormalities were observed already in young homozygous VMD2-Cre mice. Thus, continuous postnatal expression of Cre causes abnormalities in the RPE in an age- and Cre gene dosage-dependent manner, which needs to be considered in the interpretation of gene targeting studies in the RPE.

Copyright © 2014 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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